Under Janey's Garden
by Margit Elland Schmitt
This was Janey's garden. Peas and beans climbing over the back fence, corn
standing in a crooked row right next to lacy-topped carrots. Pumpkins sprawling
in a tangle with the squashes in the corner, bragging up their yellow-gold blooms.
Cucumbers, pretending to be all innocent while they hid under the pumpkins'
prickly leaves and thought about taking over the unsuspecting herbs in the patch
next over. Marigolds bright and gold, buddied up with the tomatoes.
Janey's garden, and ten-year-old Janey sat in it with her eyes squinched nearly
shut while the sun baked down on her old, straw hat, and the ice cubes clinked and
melted in the glass of lemonade at her side. She was waiting for Mom to finish
her phone call.
Janey's back itched where the sweat was trickling down between her shoulder
blades. It wasn't as if it'd be less hot for her scratching, but she did it anyway in
an absent-minded way. Her dusty fingers, dirt ground into black crescents under
each nail, would leave a smudge across the back of her t-shirt. She didn't care.
She was watching the back corner, the spot near the biggest pumpkin, and yeah,
"Rabbit's back again," she said.
Mom was busy. She was watering the roses up against the back porch. Those
roses weren't properly part of the garden, but they were pretty, blooming big and
soft and yellow up against the wood. Mom thought she was watering the roses,
but she was really talking on the cell phone, so most of the water from the hose
was runneling off in another direction. If the clients and distributors didn't get
their acts together soon, there wasn't going to be anything left on that side of the
house but one drowned and sorry-looking apple tree.